The Court of Appeal's confirmation that there will be low tolerance rather than no tolerance to breaches of the Civil Procedure Rules, will strike fear into lawyers and their clients, according to Tracey Head, a partner at Kennedys.
Head said that the Court of Appeal had used the ‘Plebgate’ case bought by Andrew Mitchell MP against The Sun Newspaper to give wide publicity to the changes to the way civil litigation is conducted. She also said that the ruling also meant that lawyers and judges would have to undergo a large culture change.
“The decision signals a more robust approach to case management and is likely to strike fear into lawyers and their clients," she said.
“Parties will realise that to breach a court rule or order will be to do so at their peril. Practitioners and parties to litigation must seek to adhere to court rules, practice directions and orders as a failure to do so could result in a harsh penalty," she added.
Murray Heining, chairman of the Association of Costs Lawyers, said that the case would be regarded as the most important civil litigation judgment of the year.
"I am quite sure that today’s judgment will provoke much discussion and rightly so. The fact that lawyers have firm guidance as to how courts should approach breaches of orders and rules is surely welcome," he said.
"This a judgment that will give Ethelred-type lawyers sleepless nights. Those practising in civil litigation, if they have not already reviewed their practices and procedures, must do so now and ensure that they have the resources to ensure compliance with the CPR and all orders made. They must also ensure that they have the resources to meet procedural obligations," added Heining.